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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words


Wrong Time, Wrong Place

7 min read

This is a story about fitting in...


I'm on holiday now. This required a very considerable amount of effort, including a hasty dash to the airport two days earlier than planned, and a couple of very expensive COVID-19 tests: one PCR and one LAMP.

Anyway, with all my COVID-19-free credentials in place, I was able to travel and reach my destination. The stress about whether or not the winter second wave [of COVID-19] would overwhelm the hospitals, and necessitate more lockdowns and travel bans, was almost unbearable, given how hard I've been working, for such a prolonged period. Although you might say it was foolish, I was pinning a lot of hopes on a Christmas getaway, as a reward.

Who am I to get a reward when so many people have lost their jobs, can't pay their rent/mortgage and/or bills, are using food banks and are otherwise suffering dreadfully?

Nobody. I'm a nobody. I'm not entitled to it. I just have it and that's the way it is. I'm a have and most people on the planet are have nots, and it really sucks. I didn't choose the time and place of my birth. I didn't choose my parents. I didn't choose most of the important stuff, which yielded this result: I am on holiday, in a hot and sunny location, with a few dollars in my pocket and no particular worries about keeping a roof over my head or food on the table.

did ask for this. I did want this. Did I feel entitled to it? Only as much entitlement as is proportional to the effort and emotional energy expended, I think. Only as much entitlement as is proportional to the psychological damage which would have been inflicted.

There are people who've had their life savings wiped out. There are people whose lifelong dream business has been bankrupted. There are, of course, many people who've lost loved ones, who they had planned to spend many more happy years in the company of. Entire industries - like cruise liners - and their ancillary businesses, have been wiped out. Hospitality was pretty much wiped out. Cinemas, theatres... the performing arts, like theatres and live music venues... wiped out.

I can't speak for those people, who have suffered those misfortunes and hardships. I can empathise with them, sure, but I have my own unique situation.

I've been writing "the world's longest suicide note" for five and a half years. That time period has included no fewer than four life-threatening suicide 'attempts'... I write the word "attempts" in inverted commas, because none were particularly well planned or executed, but instead they were provoked by circumstances beyond my control.

This year, I decided, things were going to be different. My preparations have far exceeded anything I've done before.

Some years before I started writing this "suicide note" I had obtained some potassium cyanide, which comforted me, knowing I had the option of a reliable exit method. Then, during an acrimonious divorce, I made the decision to safely dispose of it, believing that a clean break and a fresh start, would lead me away from suicide. I was wrong.

I've had some difficulty obtaining potassium cyanide again, but the synthesis of sodium cyanide is not beyond the abilities of a keen amateur chemist, with a decent budget to purchase some very specific pieces of equipment. Dealing with molten salts at 600 degrees centigrade, and indeed, any handling of an extremely potent poison, outside of a laboratory, and without professional training and supervision, was bound to be extremely dangerous, but it seemed viable.

Somewhat daunted by the task of synthesising my own sodium cyanide, I then explored the more obvious route: although there were challenges, obtaining compressed inert gas was, comparatively, easy. I have resolved never to detail the precise paraphernalia and method, because the "barrier to entry" is a useful obstacle for the impulsive... I am alive, because my impulsive suicidal acts were far less likely to succeed.

It comforted me to know that, whatever happened, I would not have a repeat of previous years when I have found myself hospitalised; surviving. It comforted me to know that I had control, no matter what circumstances arose: if I was blocked from travelling to somewhere hot and sunny, then I would have everything I needed to end my life, already in place.

It seems a bit like a childish temper tantrum, when I write it down, but if you've followed the story, then you'll know that I've spent a very long time bordering on suicide, and it should not be seen - in this context - as a rash or tantrum-like act, to end my life, due to a "final straw" being too much to bear.

Thinking about it now, lying on a sun lounger, drinking an ice cold beer, enjoying gorgeous hot weather and clear blue skies, looking at the sea... it seems unthinkable that I would have the paraphernalia to swiftly, painlessly, and reliably commit suicide, sitting at home, ready to be used whenever it's needed. As thought experiment, I asked myself "how would I kill myself, right here, right now?" and the answer was easy: there are some really massive cliffs I could throw myself off. However, unsurprisingly, the positive psychological effect of a long-overdue holiday finally arriving, has completely changed my mindset: why shouldn't I enjoy a nice rest, and go back to the UK feeling refreshed, and keep working for as many years as I feel able to, before I 'retire' by killing myself? For sure, sitting in the sun, drinking ice-cold beer, I put an optimistic upper-bound estimate of 10 or even 15 more years, before it's time to go. I had probably not got 10 or 15 weeks, or even 10 or 15 more days left in me, when I attempted to leave the UK.

Having lost 12kg (26 pounds... the best part of 2 stone) in weight and substantially improved my fitness through regular exercise, plus spent almost half of 2020 completely sober, it gladdens me greatly to drink beer and wine, and stuff my face with french fries smothered with cheese & bacon. If you don't think I have paid for what I am enjoying, you are a fool. Am I entitled to it? No. Of course not. I was prepared to die for it, but that's all; nothing much. And of course, I never forget, that 97% of the world will work much harder and risk much more for their shot at happiness, and most will fail... but I'm not them, am I? I'm me.

Exceptionalism and individualism, exemplified by the idea that "the rules don't apply to me", is writ large at the moment, with Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic showing just how idiotic the nations of the USA and UK can behave, thinking that they can go it alone, and that through Ayn Randian "rational self-interest" anything other than a hellscape will emerge, has now been proven, beyond all reasonable doubt, to be wrong; unbelievably wrong. I'm well aware that my words are full of hypocrisy, but I actually don't care: my plans are different from yours. You are attempting to make copies of your genes, via breeding, and I am resigned to my fate: suicide.

I probably won't write again for a while. My routine now involves sun loungers and ice-cold beers, so my need for this coping mechanism has been almost eliminated.

In my concluding comments, I should at least make this unambiguously clear: I feel very fortunate to have been able to slip the bonds of the plague-infested United Kingdom, and make my way to a hot and sunny country, where I am enjoying fine fare; relaxing and otherwise somewhat unencumbered by the weight of my responsibilities, temporarily. A holiday is probably not a universal cure for major depression, but it fucking helps. If you had any worries that you would learn that I was in hospital or dead, at some point over the festive period, you should be reassured that I'm 99% certain to be sipping cold beer in the sun, in a relaxed mood.

It was a 50:50 coin flip, but things turned out just fine.




The Boy Done Good

6 min read

This is a story about achievement...


If I manage to slip the bonds of the United Kingdom tomorrow, I will have done extremely well. I know for certain that I do not have COVID-19, of any variety, because I am tested every week by the University of Oxford/ONS study, and I never leave the house except to go mountain biking on my own. Additionally, I literally just received the results of a very rapid but very accurate new test, which is about as good as anybody can ever get at saying "I haven't got COVID".

I mean, it's very simple: I just don't have it.

I don't socialise. I don't leave the house. My cat doesn't leave the house. I don't have children (which is the main thing) and I haven't travelled for 16 consecutive months, so it is impossible for me to have caught it.

The people who have caught it and who have been spreading it, are the people with children; the people who've been going to pubs and other social gatherings, the people who've been circulating amongst their friends and family... basically, carrying on like normal. Of course, then there are the people, for whom direct social contact is unavoidable. There are so many jobs which can't be done from the safe comfy confines of a home office, and those jobs are essential to almost all our lives.

However, in most cases the virus is being transmitted entirely unnecessarily: just close the schools; close the non-essential businesses... and by non-essential, I mean NOBODY'S GOING TO FUCKING STARVE IF YOUR GYM HAS TO CLOSE.

I am, however, a hypocrite. Although I have spent all year as a recluse - a hermit - and I wasn't one of the heaving masses who flocked to the shops when they re-opened, or rushed to the beach, or threw house parties. I wasn't one of the crowd. I wasn't one of the herd. Despite my laudable behaviour, regarding lockdowns and suchlike, I eventually needed a holiday. I am attempting to have a holiday.

I must admit that I was very sneaky. As soon as populist governments started talking about giving people a "normal" Christmas I knew that expectations would be set unrealistically, and it would be politically impossible to do a U-turn, having built up the nation's hopes of enjoying a very brief period of yuletide festivities: basically, to snatch away the nation's excuse to get drunk, spend loads of money, and eat loads of festive food, seemed unconscionable, once the expectation had been set.

It's a logical impossibility to say "we're following the science" and also talk about a "Christmas ceasefire"... let alone make a series of moronic date-based predictions, which were ostensibly not based on any science: nobody possesses a crystal ball. When politicians spoke of beating the virus by Easter, July 4th, the start of the new academic year... are they really so stupid? No. This is modern populist politics, where ideas are tested on focus groups and policies are driven by vote-winning data. Yes, politicians are following the science: the data science of how to push people's buttons, which is usually the preserve of the advertising industry.

So, I booked a holiday, with the dates intentionally matching the "Christmas ceasefire" with the virus, as promised by our Prime Minister. I thought, foolishly, that any U-turn would be such a huge disappointment, and spread such anger with the government's bungling of the pandemic, that they wouldn't dare to break their promises.

Instead, what we have ended up with, is a system so bureaucratically complex as to be unenforceable, and indeed a momentum in the country, which inevitably builds in the lead-up to Christmas, that martial law, curfews, road blockades, sabotaged bridges and other such activity, would not stop the average British family from proceeding with their Christmas plans, which were so meticulously made.

If German and English soldiers weren't prepared to kill each other, during the famous WWII ceasefire, and even played a game of football in no-man's-land, what policeman or solider is going to break up a typical family of otherwise-law-abiding and obedient servants of the crown, for the crime of getting their family together for an event so deeply enshrined in our culture? Even the most officious of policeman and soldier, is also indoctrinated by their cultural upbringing, and so they empathise and sympathise with the plight of those who have been asked to follow insanely complicated rules, at the last minute... so much so that the politicians and their 'power' are shown to be utterly worthless, in the face of two things: 1) a virus, which does not know about any culturally significant events in the calendar of particular civilisations; and 2) a population, which already knows and accepts that many of its elderly will not survive the winter; death is inevitable.

I'm the worst kind of hypocrite, because I know that I am prone to thinking that there's "one rule for me, and one for everyone else". Like the very most despicable people on earth, I know what's good for you. I do not, of course, practice what I preach. Perhaps, for example, I will be the individual who is unknowingly carrying a mutant variant of COVID-19, which will ultimately return humanity to the stone age. Because of my selfish individualism, all the "end of lockdown" partying and other acts of myopic idiocy will pale into insignificance.

The next time I write to you, I will have either successfully pulled off an egregiously antisocial act, which might seem small and inconsequential if considered in isolation, but, we must look at the bigger picture: perhaps I am the patient zero, and the ultimate hypocrite.

In fact, I cannot be the ultimate hypocrite, because I have always recognised the importance of certain festivals and other events in the calendar of different cultures, and I actually agreed that attempting to have a somewhat normal Christmas was the right thing to do. The unforgivable error, in my opinion, was the cynical attempt to do a U-turn, and hide behind an unfathomable rulebook, in the hope that the blame could be deflected onto the individuals, instead of the politicians who made promises they couldn't keep. I, personally, would have held a press release and just said: "you're going to kill granny and granddad, but you're allowed to make that choice if you want: you're not stupid; you can be led by the science too... it's not that hard".

Anyway, spare a thought for your poor author: laying on a comfortable bed in a 5-star hotel, penning this essay, tragically unable to utilise the swimming pool or eat in the award-winning restaurant. Spare a thought for the stress your author has endured, not knowing with certainty whether or not he will be able to board a flight to paradise tomorrow, or not. Your hand-wringing over a paltry 1.7 million deaths pales into insignificance, when compared with my own very real first-world problems.




What Does Winning Look Like?

5 min read

This is a story about knowing when to stop...

Land of Legends

By no later than the age of 17 or 18, I had figured out that life was a miserable rat race, which was unwinnable, and that all jobs were equally awful. I made the decision to focus on earning as much as possible, to make my leisure time as good as it could possibly be; I made the decision to work as little as possible, get paid as much as possible, in terms of "hourly rate" if you like: for sure, there are some very well paid investment bankers and corporate lawyers, but they work 100+ hour weeks. If I can work for 25 or so hours of the week, mostly just reading the news and otherwise browsing the web, but get paid a salary which is not inconsiderably different, then I am the higher paid in relative terms.

I made a decision, and quite a sensible one, to move to the seaside. I was able to continue my London investment banking career, but I could also go kitesurfing before work, at lunchtimes and after work. I could have barbecues on the beach. I could play beach volleyball. I could have a boat and go wakeboarding, whenever I wanted. It was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I ever made.


Burnout and depression, precipitated by the very driven and determined part of my personality, which I can never quite tame, led to to me finding myself too unwell to work.

The next part of my life was not well planned. I did very well from some speculative ventures, and I also managed to do very well with some other coastal companies who needed my consultancy skills. I still had my boat. I still had my barbecues. Life was still very good.


Having spent a very long career (11 years at this point) hating every single second of the rat race, and having had some success with speculative entrepreneurial ventures, I wanted to "be my own boss" for once.

Big mistake.

More than anything in the world, I hate business administration. I'm an engineer: I want to design and build cool stuff. I don't want to be bothered with bureaucracy. I want to concentrate on elegant solutions to difficult problems.

So, I didn't really enjoy doing my first proper tech startup. I wanted all the wealth and security of what I'd done before, plus the freedom to do some nice engineering, but instead I had to deal with customers and investors. I hated it. I hated my business, which I had no passion for: it was just a cash cow, and a stupid idea, in terms of giving me the lifestyle that I wanted.

What does winning look like?

That question was really easy to answer, once upon a time: to live near the beach, and to be able to go kitesurfing whenever I wanted, and to have enough money to travel the world, going kitesurfing wherever the wind was best at that time of year.

I did, literally, live the dream for a while.

What does winning look like, now, today?

I have no idea.

I know that I need to find another passion again, which I hope I have done with mountain biking, but it's difficult because it's such a dangerous injury-prone sport, and I'm not a young man anymore.

I know that I need to find something which brings social contact; a network of like-minded individuals. It's difficult, because I've only ever known that to come about through my particular passion.

I think that a high standard of living is part of it - nice holidays and meals - but at the same time, one of the happiest times of my life was when I was homeless, destitute and sleeping rough.

appear to have a lot of options. I was, for example, able to go to Turkish Disneyland, completely on a whim, because I needed a holiday and had no other inspiration. There was a water park, rollercoaster rides, and the whole place was delightful, including the themed hotel, which was meant for kids but was absolutely amazing for adults: who wouldn't want a Playstation and massive projector screen in their hotel room, for example?

I've tried and failed with a few relationships in recent years. Frankly, that's been more to do with the extreme pressure I've been under in other areas of my life, to stabilise my finances, and rebuild my professional reputation, after a rocky period due to repeated illnesses; hospitalisations... and of course, unstable mental health. My priority has been rebuilding my bank balance, and making myself look employable again; delivering some high-quality work.

What does winning look like now? Well, I have the world's best cat - a beautiful ragdoll girl - and a 3.5 bedroom house with 2 reception rooms, all in very grand proportions, for her to run around in. I live in one of the most desirable parts of Cardiff, next to botanical gardens and a massive lake. I can cycle from my house to mountains or lakes. I've got it all, except for a partner and a [local] social support network. It sounds like I've got it all, but as I lay dying of multiple organ failure on the floor a year ago, I knew that I'm a hermit; a recluse. The lack of any social glue, sticking me to life, is going to prove fatal.

I'm not complaining... of course, I get to live a very exciting life, although most of it is extremely lonely but that's necessary as part of the journey I'm on... even though I don't know where I'm going. All I know is: if you have a lot of money, you have a lot more choices, and you have a lot more fun; less stress.

I'm sorry if you find this boastful or otherwise churlish.




Time Poor

6 min read

This is a story about keeping busy...


At first glance, it appears that I'm neither cash poor nor time poor. This year, my life has been revolutionised: all the wasted commuting time is now mine, to do with whatever I want, and I will definitely end the year with a small financial buffer, to shield me from any economic certainty. In theory, I might even find myself in the Spring time, with some 'disposable' income.

Of course, I have time and money at the moment, but I would rather use my 'leisure' time to make more money, and I want to hoard as much money as possible, because I'm always on the edge of suicide, or at least a nervous breakdown; I can feel no certainty about my future: it contains only death and/or serious illness, both of which will eliminate my income, wrecking my fragile finances.

Looking back at extravagant purchases over the past few years, I've furnished a large house, been on some very luxurious holidays, bought a couple of highly sought-after pedigree cats, eaten in a lot of restaurants, travelled around by taxi, bought a car, bought the latest iPhone and otherwise spent money, without really worrying about it. However, it's not that money that anybody should worry about. That money is just normal stuff that you buy over the course of a few years, working very hard full-time. In fact, I would say that I've spent far, far less than anybody else in my income bracket, who works the same number of hours per week as I do. The lion's share of my money has gone towards debt, taxes and savings... the latter of which I have precious little, when my health is so fragile.

On the matter of fragile health, it seems wrong to write about it, when I don't - to my knowledge - have a life-limiting illness... that is, unless you accept that my depression is so severe that it is life-limiting. I suppose it's grossly unfair to compare myself with a person suffering from cystic fibrosis, who is battling to be alive and has very few choices, versus me who doesn't battle at all, and has an infinite number of choices, right?

That's right, isn't it? My choices are infinite?

Let's just double check this: I can do anything I want, right?


Spectacularly wrong.

Yes, I am fortunate not to have cystic fibrosis, but that doesn't mean I have infinite freedom. Imagine if you met somebody with cystic fibrosis who was depressed about having the condition, and resigned to an early death. Now, imagine you are meeting me, with depression so severe that I have also resigned myself to the early death, which will result from the condition. You will say that I am choosing, but the person with cystic fibrosis cannot choose. You're just plain wrong. If it was a matter of choosing, then I would obviously choose not to have a mental illness.

It seems inconsiderate of me to make this comparison; it seems distasteful, taboo, and somehow intrinsically wrong; incorrect. However, I assure you, that whether it is an auto-immune condition where the body attacks itself, or a mental health condition where the body attacks itself, there is an underlying pathology, which is ultimately prematurely fatal. The situations are, for the purpose of this thought experiment, identical.

The fact that I would continue to do what I'm doing at the moment for 'free' if I was financially secure and independent, suggests that I'm not complaining about a lack of 'spare time' at all. I need my leisure time, with very little to occupy it, because I am so single-mindedly fixated on the outcome of the project I'm involved in. If I tried to do anything extra, I would definitely have a nervous breakdown. Hence, being single and not dating at the moment, for example.

The fact that I do and say whatever I want, whenever I want, also suggests that I'm not complaining about lack of money either. Of course, if my contract was terminated early, or not extended, then I will very quickly find myself evicted onto the streets, penniless and destitute. The question is how quickly? I expect that I can support myself for 4 or 5 months, without any lifestyle alteration. Of course, I also know what it's like to spend the best part of two years homeless, sleeping rough for considerable periods... so it's not something I'm anxious about.

What I fear more than anything is boredom. I like being busy.

I do also fear the loss of my home, and more importantly, the stress that would be placed on me, having to downsize from a 3/4 bedroom house with two reception rooms, a garden and a driveway, to a hostel bed or a tent... or worse still, just a hastily improvised bivouac.

However, more than the fear of the loss of my home, and the associated stress, I fear being trapped as a wage slave; I fear being forced to do a salaried job which I hate more than anything in the world, just to pay the rent or mortgage... locked into a miserable monotonous life, with no option to cut and run from that drudgery.

Perhaps the day will never come - indeed it never has - where I will be able to finally take a year off work, go travelling, write a novel or two, without having a constant anxiety gnawing at the pit of my stomach, telling me that I'd better get back to work as quick as possible, to replenish my rapidly dwindling meagre pot of life savings.

I have, now, considerably simplified the whole thing though: I will work hard, now, while there is the opportunity. Then, I will see if I have the chance, for the first time in my life, to pursue a path just for fun and excitement, as more than just a one or two week holiday, as recompense for a miserable boring job, which doesn't really count. I've never had money, health, and freedom from commitments, ever before in my life. I'm not one of the privileged bunch who got to go on gap years and doss about at uni, because there was a magic money tree which meant they could just drift around, reading a few books and chatting to interesting people... all I've ever done is work.

I'm far too old and far too poor to really be thinking about 'travelling' in a youthful sense... this is more akin to 'early retirement'... except my early retirement, through financial necessity, must end with premature death, which is fine by me, because I am very, very, very tired.




I Work Too Hard

2 min read

This is a story about being 'always on'...


When I was 21 or 22 years old, I got a BlackBerry. I mean... I didn't buy one or anything... I mean I got a company BlackBerry. It was a big deal to get a BlackBerry. Only important people had a BlackBerry back then, in 2002 or whatever it was. It was a massive status symbol. Also, as a major geek, I thought it was brilliant to have a device where I could send and receive email, anywhere in the world... something we take totally for granted now.

I used to work for follow the sun global banks, where the New York Stock Exchange ceased trading, allowed everybody to get a few hours sleep before the Australian Securities Exchange started trading... then we followed the sun: Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, India... brief respite... then the Russian, German and Paris exchanges, then finally London. It does not allow for a lot of sleep.

If you leave your BlackBerry on all the time, you will get emails in the middle of the night - UK time - telling you about something happening in the Asia-Pacific markets, which you should kinda know about because it's going to ruin your day in London, by the time it ripples round the globe.

The little noise and flashing light was so addictive, compelling me to read an email in the middle of the night, that we jokingly called our mobile devices CrackBerry.

Now, it's Slack which I can't ignore. Slack is the new CrackBerry.

It's almost 10pm and I've been working since before 7am. Those are long days. I don't even work in investment banking anymore. I can't expect a house-deposit sized bonus at the end of the year, so why am I pulling such crazy hours?

Well, it was never about the hours. Sometimes, projects are just addictive: you get invested in them, and you want to see a successful end result. Also, as an engineer, you like fixing stuff; you like solving puzzles and being helpful.

Anyway, I have a holiday in less than a week - all things being well - so I'll hopefully make it before inevitably burning out.




Freedom of Information

4 min read

This is a story about the public domain...


"Are you going to [write] about it [and publish it for the general public to see]?" a friend and trusted confidante asked me, today. My answer was: "I doubt it".

It would be really annoying if you didn't know what the heck I was going on about, so I shall immediately fill you in.

Because I have been working for a very large organisation for, what seems like, a very long time, my mental illness is starting to become harder to conceal. Or, perhaps, it's my horrible personality, which is finally making itself visible, having concealed it for as long as possible. Either way, the mask is slipping. I am saying, doing and writing things which are less-than-ideal.

Theoretically, almost everything I write during my working day, is available to be read by you. If you were determined to read the vast amounts of stuff I've written, not already available on this website, then you could theoretically obtain most of the remainder to read.

I don't often tend to forget that almost everything I write is either published to the public internet, where absolutely anybody can read it with extreme ease, or published elsewhere, freely available for members of the public to read, or to request permission to read.

Don't bother to ask me the exact rules, but I write and publish thousands of things every year, during my working day, which are fully public, but not on this website, however, they can be found and read, with little difficulty. There's some other stuff too, which is theoretically available for the public to read... but that process is much harder. Then, there's this website, which is probably the easiest to find, containing the most comprehensive collection of the entire contents of my brain, transferred into text, and published in such a way as to permit easy reading.

I have no control over my mood, but I am aware of my mood disorder. I can attempt to compensate for my mental illness. However, my mood fluctuations - from suicidal depression to manic highs - do colour my writing. When I am suicidal, predictably, most of my writing will be affected by the extremely severe depression. When I am manically high, most of my writing will be affected by my racing thoughts and delusions of grandeur.

Then, we must also consider my state of mind, independent of my mental illness. I have, for example, worked for 16 consecutive months without a holiday. I have been working hard. Too hard. I mean, I really put in a great deal of effort. I'm not just cruising along. I'm busting my balls, every day.

Not wanting to start a pity party, but I've also been doing a very extreme diet, in order to reach a healthy weight. Oh, and I'm single at the moment, and I don't have any friends living nearby. Oh and I'm estranged from my whole family, except for my sister who I only speak to once every couple of years, on average. So... all in all, not a good recipe for a happy human, even without mental illness in the picture.

Did I mention I stopped drinking back in September? Being teetotal is supposed to be a healthy choice, but how are we supposed to unwind after a long stressful day at work? For sure I lost a load of weight - 10kg (22 pounds) - but not being able to have a glass of wine after work is fucking awful.

Anyway, sorry for the self-pity.

Against this backdrop of lockdown, no friends, no family, no girlfriend, working incredibly hard, no holidays, and of course my mental illness, it should not come as any surprise that my behaviour can get pretty erratic and weird at times.

The incident mentioned at the start of this essay, was related to me being harshly critical of something. What I said wasn't untrue, nor was it mean or malicious: it was purely factual. However, I used some pretty powerful and colourful language, which would have left the reader in no doubt that I was less than impressed by some of the madness I'm forced to witness on a daily basis, with little or no opportunity to influence any outcome in a positive direction.

You might say I was ranting, and the manner of my ranting was unprofessional. I have a reply to that: sorry.




The End is Nigh

4 min read

This is a story about the finish line...


My idea of 'winning' is very different from most other people's I think. Well, actually, on reflection, we are agreed on what would constitute 'winning' but most other people have decided to lower their standards, and call something else 'winning'.

Let me give you a breakdown:

Having a house is something which everybody wants. I want to have a house. Other people want to have a mortgage: the bank will own the house, and allow the person who pays the mortgage to live there, but it's not the same as having a house.

Retirement is something which everybody wants. I want to retire. Other people want to collect a pension: the pension will be woefully inadequate, so the people who are collecting their pitiful pensions will have a new job, which is trying to make their meagre funds stretch to pay for their needs, which is not the same as retiring.

Financial independence is something which everybody wants. I want to be financially independent. Other people want credit cards which aren't maxed out, and a small pot of savings - enough for a holiday or a minor improvement to part of the bank's house - which is not the same as financial independence.

Freedom is something which everybody wants. I want to be free. Other people want to be told when and where they should be, for the majority of their time, and otherwise controlled by the limits of their meagre finances.

All I want is everything.

That's all.

Of course, we can all agree that owning a house - outright with no mortgage - not having a salaried job, having enough money in the bank to last you for the rest of your natural life (at a high living standard) and otherwise being free from any commitments or other coercion, would be the dictionary definition of 'winning' right?

So, why then do I sound so ludicrous when I say "that is what I want"? Why does it sound so implausible? Why does it sound so impossible; such an unattainable fantasy?

I'm getting close.

I'm getting really close.


My version of 'winning' is a shit version of 'winning'. I will buy a shit house. I will live in a shit part of the world. I will not be able to live for very long, at a reasonable standard of living, before I run out of money. My freedom will cost me the ultimate price: premature death.

Is that so bad, premature death? Many people who pay off their mortgage and retire, do not live for very long. Are they 'winners'? Obviously not.

To win the game, you have to have spent more years of freedom, financially independent, retired and living in a house you own, than anybody else. The winner is the person who spends the most years in that situation. There are no prizes for paying off your mortgage, retiring, and having a huge pot of savings, when you are 65 years old, and you die 16 years later, having spent most of that time with no freedom at all because you are old and sick and dying.

In terms of quality-adjusted life years, if I spend just 8 years with good health, right now, I will have achieved more than 16 years with arthritis, dementia, cataracts, deafness, incontinence, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes... not to mention the vastly diminished energy levels, fragility of my body, and far greater length of time for any injury to heal.

Why wait?

I don't need to wait until I'm pensionable age to take advantage of my health. In fact, to wait would be incredibly foolish, because it's inevitable that my health will deteriorate, and there's an ever-increasing chance of death. How stupid it would be, to die before retirement, or soon after.

Sadly, there's a finite limit to the length of my early retirement, which dictates that my life must be cut short, artificially, in order to yield the high-quality years of freedom which I quite rightfully demand. There's a price to be paid, and I will pay the ultimate price on a pre-chosen day, in the not-too-distant future. However, don't be sad... everyone dies you stupid cunt.




Manic Rant

4 min read

This is a story about image...


I have completely forgotten that people perceive and judge me, often by the public persona which I present. I have completely forgotten that people read what I write, who are my friends and work colleagues. I have completely forgotten to present a mask; a fake artificial image of how I want to be perceived, through an entirely fabricated story, which never really happened.

Without alcohol as a crutch, I am almost entirely reliant on a daily dose of writing, as catharsis for the overwhelming thoughts and feelings, which have no other outlet.

I sit down in front of the blank page every day, and I write as if nobody is reading, but it's not true: there are people reading.

My brain has been impaired, more than usual, because of extremely low blood sugar. I've consumed an average of fewer than 300 calories, on average, during the past 4 days, which is a ridiculously low amount. Of course, I've successfully managed to drop a kilo of weight (2.2 pounds) in under a week, but I've put my already fragile mental health under extreme duress.

Thinking about what I've written from the perspective of a hypothetical person who I want to like and respect me, it seems as though my words have been regrettable. I've launched into various tirades against the whole of humanity. I've ripped ordinary folks to pieces, with long grandiose delusional rants, written in a state of temporary mania.

In fact, my mania is not-so-temporary. It seems as if my mania can last months, if not years. I suppose the kind of mania which more traditionally manifests itself - spending money, taking risks, being sexually promiscuous, gambling, drinking, taking drugs, having grandiose delusions - is pretty clearly not present, but I know that I'm quite cunning at hiding my 'true' mood. Of course, there's no hiding how I really feel, because it's all documented here, but that's by design. On average, most of my work colleagues won't be reading this, so on average, most of my work colleagues won't know how utterly insane I am; how mentally ill I am.

I've thrown caution to the wind, somewhat, and started writing whatever the hell I want, without thinking about the consequences, insofar as my professional image and reputation. I don't think it's deliberately self-sabotaging behaviour, but I certainly don't feel like I'm desperately clinging to my source of income, terrified of getting booted out of my client's organisation because of my madness... which is a big change from the preceding couple of years.

Of course, I've not yet earned enough money to retire, so any loss of income would be pretty catastrophic. There's no good reason for me to burn and bridges, and in fact there are many good reasons to preserve whatever reputation I have painstakingly built. However, I'm also really tired and in desperate need of a holiday.

I've lost all control over what comes out of my mouth, and what gets written down on this page, at least in terms of a well thought-through plan, or in terms of some in-depth thought into the possible consequences. My mouth has already run at a million miles an hour, and whatever stupid stuff I was thinking has already been heard or read, long before I've had a chance to consider the implications and regret it.

I would quite like to repair my image, and to even possibly enter a new era, where I'm perceived positively; where people once again think of me as a reliable, dependable, likeable, useful sort of person, instead of a maniac who has to be tolerated, begrudgingly, until the earliest opportunity to boot me out.

It doesn't feel, day to day, as if I'm skating on such thin ice, versus the conflict I was going through before, and the regrettable way that I was acting, but my perceptions are exceedingly wonky: I am no doubt spewing a near-continuous stream of reputation-damaging, insulting, aggravating and otherwise regrettable things, which are rapidly destroying any goodwill which I had accidentally accumulated.

There are so few working days now, for me to limp through, before I take a long-overdue holiday, but that's no reason to think that I can't totally screw everything up.




Winter is a Nightmare

4 min read

This is a story about the worst of all worlds...


I was already depressed and anxious before the winter started, but now I'm really depressed. I get seasonal depression very badly every winter, but this winter seems worse than ever.

The most dreadful combination of factors, includes the exacerbated isolation of not having any local friends or family, magnified by the pandemic lockdowns, being single, not drinking, unmedicated, on a diet, tired, hungry and generally pretty pissed off with life, having worked 16 months back-to-back without a holiday; only a single day off, except for the very occasional bank holiday and a period where I was hospitalised with multiple organ failure, which doesn't really count.

Poor me. Poor me etc etc.

Yep, this is self-pitying stuff, but I don't care: I'm miserable and this is the only coping mechanism I've got.

In an attempt to count my blessings, I guess I've only gotta work for three more weeks before attempting to take a long-overdue holiday. My finances are heading in the right direction. My weight is headed in the right direction. My fitness is headed in the right direction. The project, which has been my all-consuming passion for the best part of a couple of years, is at least not in terrible shape, which is something of a minor miracle. I don't have to waste my life commuting, which is good. I don't dread my alarm clock going off or struggle to get up in the morning, which is definitely a miracle.

My mental health is definitely in tatters, as I swing from suicidal depression to manic ranting, but the rigid structure and routine I've installed in my life, is holding me steady. It beggars belief that I have managed to save as much money as I have, work as much as I have, and produce as much as I have, while undergoing a near-continuous mental health crisis, which very nearly killed me less than a year ago... even getting hospitalised with multiple organ failure didn't much disrupt my stride.

I know that winter is a dangerous time - a threat to my life - and I had successfully employed some great techniques to cope: namely, getting the hell out of this miserable country and going somewhere hot, as much as possible during the winter. Of course, as soon as I found myself trapped here last winter, it was curtains. We will see what happens this year, but there's a glimmer of home that I might escape both the terrible winter weather, and the threat to my life which implicitly comes with being in the UK during the winter.

The period when I had the most face-to-face contact with other humans, was during the height of the pandemic, when we stood on our doorstep and clapped for the NHS. I was getting a daily dose of talking to other humans, in-person. Now, I spend the long winter evenings and the miserable weekends totally alone.

Of course, almost everything which I hate about my life, appears to be a choice: I'm choosing to not drink any alcohol, I'm choosing to diet, I'm choosing to be single, I'm choosing to be unmedicated. All of these choices are good for me though, so it's not really a choice, but a necessity. I know that in the long run I will have substantially improved my bank balance, flattened my tummy, and maintained my sanity, none of which would be possible without short-term sacrifice.

I'm sitting here with my stomach gurgling angrily. I over-indulged with food at the weekend, although I was still well below my calorie requirements and as such, still dieting. However, my weight loss is not progressing as quickly as I want it to, so I'm fasting for 40+ consecutive hours. The hunger is made all the worse, by all the other things I've got going on.

Still, just three weeks to go, I tell myself. Just three weeks before I attempt to take a long-overdue holiday.




No Retreat

4 min read

This is a story about one-way streets...


An important reason why people commit suicide, which demands further discussion, is the way that life is set up so that retreat is almost impossible. Nobody ever asks for a demotion. Nobody ever asks for a pay cut. Nobody ever wants to pull their kids out of private school to put them into state school. Nobody ever wants to cut off their kids' allowance, or stop paying into a savings account for their university education. Nobody ever wants to lose their trophy partner, because they can't afford to keep them in the manner to which they have been accustomed. Nobody wants to downsize or move in with family. It's all a one-way street.

Taken in aggregate, a small bump in the road can easily be understood as something which would prompt somebody to commit suicide. While you might say to somebody who's lost their job "just get another job" it's actually much more complicated than that: most people are only one or two missed paycheques away from major financial difficulties. The whole house of cards can collapse very easily: everybody is leveraged to the max.

Of course, you might say that it's silly to get worked up about material things. "Of course" everyone would understand about having to sell the fancy car, not go on holiday, leave the fancy school, not buy the nice things, maybe not have the same opportunities. "Of course" so the saying goes "we've still got each other" except it doesn't work like that. When the money dries up, everyone fucks off, and then the vultures move in to pick any remaining flesh off the carcass.

Yes, we really do have to acknowledge that we all become highly leveraged such that relatively small problems are life-destroying, and as such, they are life-ending.

We humans are optimists by nature. We always assume that the stock market is going to keep going up, the housing market is going to keep going up, our salary is going to keep going up: everything must always go up, according to our human proclivity for optimism. It's not that people are stupid, although of course they are that too, but there's a fundamental hard-wired kind of specific stupidity I'm talking about: the tendency towards optimism, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

If we were beasts of pure reason and logic, we'd kill ourselves as soon as we grasped our situation: a life of pain, depression, anxiety, suffering, hard work and other unpleasantness, met with an inevitable death at the end. Why put yourself through that? Our self-preservation instincts have evolved to counteract our higher brain functions, lest our species die out, but still... why bother? It's completely illogical to live your life hoping for anything: death is inevitable; illness, pain and suffering is almost inevitable. Almost nobody dies "peacefully" in their sleep: decades of slow, painful and uncomfortable dying await us all.

Obviously, we hope to achieve symbolic immortality through our genes, passed on to our children. Or rather, our genes hope to be replicated. We are, after all, just a vessel for genes to reproduce themselves, and it would be foolish - an anthropocentric arrogant delusion of grandeur - to try to convince ourselves otherwise.

In the eternally optimistic quest for a "better life" we strive to get a bigger salary, bigger house, more attractive partner, as many kids as we can realistically feed and clothe... then we move onto status symbols, like university degrees, professional qualifications/certification, fancy cars, luxury holidays... still we are not satiated.

At some point, pretty early on in our life, we become locked into a certain destiny. Pretty much, once you've got kids, you are locked-into a certain kind of life: although you might fantasise about selling your house and living in a camper van, you never will, because you are locked in, in so many ways. Even if you're wealthy and single, you're never going to sell everything you own and become a homeless nomad. You might have gone off on a gap year, you predictable tedious middle-class wanker, but you know that any more gaps on your CV wouldn't look good on your otherwise unblemished career track-record.

Those who are unlucky enough to suffer a misfortune most often go one of two ways: they're kicked out of mainstream life, and must accept their plight trapped in the underclass forevermore, or they commit suicide. There's no other line of retreat; there's no way back, for those who err or suffer a misfortune.

This might seem like a bleak outlook, but you know it's true.